Steve Sidwell

Singapore Select XI 0-2 Stoke City: Potters claim third in Barclays Asia Trophy

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After battling to a scoreless draw and losing to Everton on penalties, Stoke City defeated the Singapore Select XI 2-0 to take home third place in the Barclays Asia Trophy.

Steve Sidwell scored in the opening minutes and Stoke held on to the one goal lead for more than an hour before Marko Arnautovic made it 2-0 in the 73rd minute.

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The Potters will now head back to the UK for more preseason play before the Premier League kicks off in August.

Sidwell opened the scoring off a corner kick, after Peter Crouch’s header found him wide open for a tap-in near the net. Crouch is the Premier League’s all-time leader for header goals, but this time the 6-foot-8-inch striker settled for the assist.

Arnautovic was the only player who failed to convert his penalty kick against Everton, when Tim Howard’s save put Stoke into the third-place match. The big Austrian atoned for his miss with a cool finish against the Singapore XI side, cutting by one defender before slotting into the side netting.

Stoke snag Sidwell; Could they be next year’s Premier League darlings?

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Mark Hughes is setting up the Potters to be the underdog darlings of the Premier League next season.

With Southampton losing its coach and — likely — star players, which non-giant club could become the story of 2014/15? Certainly Crystal Palace would like to think it can do the trick, and Harry Redknapp probably thinks he’s going to Champions League, but take a peek at what Hughes is doing at Stoke City.

Stoke has smartly picked up Steve Sidwell, 31, who was Fulham’s top scorer last season in its relegation campaign. Add him to ex-Sunderland defender Phil Bardsley, and Hughes has a quietly-strong start to the transfer season (especially given the club’s size).

It’s a two-year deal for Sidwell, who was a target for Alan Pardew at Newcastle United among a number of suitors once he secured his release from Fulham.

“Steve was much in demand and we are delighted to have won the race to secure his signature,” said Stoke chief executive Tony Scholes.

The Potters jumped into ninth place in the Premier League on the final day of last season, but that was 19 points back of the last European qualifier (not counting Hull City, which made it on FA Cup finalist’s form).

And with a steady lineup of Asmir Begovic in net and a good back line of Ryan Shawcross, Geoff Cameron and others, Stoke is one to watch moving forward if they can add more attacking flair like Sidwell, and 2014 Stoke young player of the year Marko Arnautovic.

Premier League by the numbers: Looking at the season’s statistical leaders

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A quick look at some of the leader boards at the end of the 2013-14 Premier League season:

Goals scored, team

  • 102 – Manchester City
  • 101 – Liverpool
  • 71 – Chelsea

Two of the top scoring teams in Premier League history not only challenged the record of Carlo Ancellotti’s 2009-10 Chelsea team (103), they lapped the rest of the league. You’d have to take away all of Luis Suarez’s goals to reduce Liverpool to Chelsea’s level.

Goals scored, individual

  • 31 – Luis Suarez
  • 21 – Daniel Sturridge
  • 20 – Yaya Toure

Together, Suarez and Sturridge outscored 11 Premier League teams, but Yaya Toure’s contribution may have been as impressive. The Ivorian midfielder tallied more goals than Chelsea’s Samuel Eto’o, Fernando Torres, and Demba Ba combined (19).

Goals from English players

  • 48 – Liverpool
  • 38 – Southampton
  • 34 – Manchester United

Not that it matters.

Assists, individual

  • 13 – Steven Gerrard
  • 12 – Luis Suarez
  • 9 – two players

Two assists on the final day helped Gerrard claim this honor from Suarez, but the Uruguayan’s standing is a reminder of his year’s dominance.

Shots on target, individual

  • 81 – Luis Suarez
  • 45 – Romelu Lukaku
  • 43 – Sergio Aguero, Wayne Rooney

You knew Suarez would be on top, and as you’d suspect with a large gap on top of the goal scoring charts, the margin here is large, too. Daniel Sturridge had 42.

Passes completed, team

  • 18,532 – Arsenal
  • 17,993 – Swansea City
  • 17.863 – Manchester City

Or about 488 per game, for Arsenal.

Passes completed, player

  • 2,255 – Yaya Toure
  • 1982 – Mikel Arteta
  • 1,908 – Steve Gerrard

Like Suarez with shots, what’s remarkable here is the gap. Toure averaged 69 completed passes per 90 minute(though Arteta averaged 74).

Headed goals, team

  • 14 – Liverpool
  • 12 – Arsenal
  • 10 – five teams

One out of every 5.7 Arsenal goals came off somebody’s head, with Olivier Giroud’s four second only to Wilfried Bony (five) for the league’s lead.

Hit the woodwork, individual

  • 9 – Luis Suarez
  • 5 – three players

Hitting the woodwork isn’t bad luck, as is often implied, but it’s worth noting how close Luis Suarez was to an even more staggering goal total.

Penalty goals, individual

  • 10 – Steven Gerrard
  • 6 – Yaya Toure
  • 4 – three players

“Stevie G” scored 13 total goals this season, but imagine if Suarez took the spot kicks instead. He would have approached 40 goals while Gerrard’s place in our teams of the season may have gotten a second thought.

Tackles, indiviual

  • 133 – Mile Jedinak
  • 121 – Steve Sidwell
  • 120 – Pabl0 Zabaleta

You expect central midfielders to be on this list, but Pablo Zabaleta is a right back. Farther down the list, Erik Pieters, Joel Ward, and Geoff Cameron also claim spots in the top 10.

Saves, individual

  • 149 – David Marshall
  • 130 – Vito Mannone
  • 124 – John Ruddy

Vito Mannone is sandwiched between two relegated keepers despite playing only 29 games.

Fouls won, team

  • 454 – Sunderland
  • 450 – Chelsea
  • 448 – Manchester United

The Black Cats were fouled 44 more times than Liverpool, though Fabio Borini, the teams leader in fouls won, was only 10th in the league. Why were opponents so willing to draw whistles against Sunderland?

Fouls won, individual

  • 89 – Eden Hazard
  • 79 – Robert Snodgrass
  • 76 – Adam Lallana

Surprisingly, Luis Suarez is only fourth, 22 fouls behind Hazard. Then again: forward versus attacking midfield.

Fouls conceded, team

  • 491 – Aston Villa
  • 486 – Stoke City
  • 448 – Sunderland

For Stoke, this may be the legacy of Tony Pulis, with Mark Hughes having inherited the former manager’s combative squad. For Aston Villa, Paul Lambert’s team spent most of its season without the ball (18th in possession, 43.8 pct.).

Fouls conceded, individual

  • 66 -Cheick Tiote
  • 62 – Steve Sidwell
  • 60 – Mile Jedinak

Whereas Jedinak and Sidwell were also among the league’s most prolific tacklers, Tiote finished 10th on that list (107).

Times subbed off, individual

  • 19 – Leon Osman
  • 19 – Adam Lallana
  • 19 – Marouane Chamakh

It’s surprising to see Lallana’s name here, but it also makes sense that three teams with consistent (game-to-game) plans had regular substitution patterns.

Offsides, individual

  • 33 – Luis Suarez
  • 32 – Loic Remy
  • 30 – Christian Benteke

And Benteke only played 26 games. For Suarez, this is likely a function of his team’s prolific attack.

Yellow cards, team

  • 78 – Aston Villa
  • 72 – Stoke City
  • 72 – Manchester City

Manuel Pellegrini’s team wasn’t even in the top 10 in fouls. When the Citizens went in, they made it count.

Yellow cards, individual

  • 11 – Pablo Zabaleta
  • 10 – three players

Lee Cattermole is jealous. The Sunderland’s human IED didn’t even make the top 10.

Red cards, team

  • 7 – Sunderland
  • 6 – Newcastle United
  • 5 – two teams

Black Cats defender Wes Brown led the league with three dismissals. Only five other players drew multiple red cards.

Clean sheets, individual

  • 16 – Wojciech Szczesney
  • 16 – Petr Cech
  • 15 – Tim Howard

Chelsea also led the league as a team with 18 shutouts.

Players used

  • 39 – Fulham
  • 32 – Cardiff City
  • 31 – Sunderland
  • 31 – Crystal Palace

All four changed managers (at least once) mid-season.

All stats courtesy of Opta.

Premier League Roundup: Chelsea blow it, Swansea, Spurs and Palace win

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Nervy nail-biters were the order of the day in the Premier League, as we’re still no clearer to unraveling the picture at both ends of the standings.

Although at the top of the standings, title-chasing Chelsea suffered a hammer blow in their quest for the PL crown as they wee beaten at home under Jose Mourinho for the first time ever. Bottom side Sunderland were the victors, as a late penalty means Mourinho tastes defeat at home for the first time in 77 PL matches. Incredible.

(MORE: Latest Premier League standings)

Swansea City were the big winners down the bottom as they beat Newcastle, while Crystal Palace sealed their fifth-straight win to secure their place in the PL next season. As for the teams in the relegation zone Fulham loss at Spurs, Cardiff drew at home to Stoke, while Sunderland bagged that crucial win at Chelsea.

If you missed any of the action, don’t worry we have you covered.

Below are the recaps, brief analysis and video highlights to satisfy your PL needs. Enjoy… what a Saturday!

Aston Villa 0-0 Southampton

Stalemate at Villa Park, as Saints spurned three glorious chances to win with Rickie Lambert (twice) and Adam Lallana the guilty parties. Aston Villa thwarted Saints’ attempts and had a few half chances of their own, but Paul Lambert’s side were more than content to grab another point as they ease away from the relegation zone. Saints had a late penalty appeal turned down, as they remain in eighth spot with Villa in 12th on 35 points. They are five points clear of the drop zone with three games left, so the Villans, just, should be around in the PL next season.

Cardiff City 1-1 Stoke City

The Bluebirds missed a big chance to draw level with Norwich outside the relegation zone, as Ole Gunnar Solksjaer’s boys ran out of steam at home. Stoke City took a first half lead through a dubious penalty, as Marko Arnautovic slammed home on his birthday. Then Howard Webb pointed to the spot for a second time after the break, with Peter Whittingham scoring for Cardiff. The Bluebirds had a goal disallowed for offside, but in truth they had their ‘keeper David Marshall to thank for a string of fine saves, plus the woodwork helped them out. Still in the battle against the drop, but time is running out for Cardiff.

Chelsea 1-2 Sunderland

Jose Mourinho’s unbeaten home run in the Premier League as Chelsea’s manager is over, as Sunderland delivered a hammer blow in the Blues’ hopes of lifting the title. Samuel Eto’o gave Chelsea an early lead but Connor Wickham equalized within six minutes as Sunderland dug in to frustrate the title chasers. Despite relentless pressure, it was the Black Cats who scored late on to win it, as U.S. international Jozy Altidore won a slightly dubious penalty kick in the 82nd minute which Fabio Borini slotted home. Afterwards Mourinho lost the plot in his TV interview, launching a tirade against the referees, as the ‘Special One’ and Chelsea saw their title hopes dashed by the bottom club. Sensational.

Newcastle United 1-2 Swansea City

A stoppage-time penalty kick from Wilfried Bony sealed a valuable three points for Swansea, as the South Wales side all but secured their Premier League status. Newcastle had taken the lead through Shola Ameobi midway through the first half but Bony headed home a lovely equalizer on the stroke of half time to send the teams in level. Both sides pushed for the winner but the pivotal moment arrived in time added on as sub Marvin Emnes raced clear and was brought down by Cheick Tiote in the box. Swansea are now on 36 points and should be safe, while Newcastle have lost five-straight games.

Tottenham Hotspur 3-1 Fulham

Spurs were sloppy for most of the first half and although they took the lead against Fulham, thanks to Paulinho’s tap-in from a sublime Chirstian Eriksen free kick, the Cottagers had most of the play. Steve Sidwell equalized two minutes later, as the Lilywhites were showing exactly why they’d won two-straight before their trip to White Hart Lane. Spurs were much better after the break and youngster Harry Kane scored his third goal in three games for Spurs with a deft header, before Younes Kaboul knocked home yet another stunning delivery from Eriksen. Fulham were handed a lifeline 15 minutes from time as Eriksen handled in the box, but Sidwell saw his spot kick saved by Hugo Lloris as Spurs held on for the win. Tottenham stay in sixth, while Fulham remain two points from safety with three games to go.

West Ham United 0-1 Crystal Palace

A club record five wins in a row has seen the Eagles soar to 11th place, as Tony Pulis’ men are absolutely flying. A narrow win, thanks to Mile Jedinak’s penalty kick, away at London rivals West Ham means they are mathematically safe and now have their sights set on finishing in the top half of the standings. As for West Ham, they huffed and puffed but were unable to break down a stubborn Palace team with Andy Carroll, amongst other, spurning good opportunities to score.

Tottenham Hotspur 3-1 Fulham: Whites’ hope fading fast (video)

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Fulham remain two points from safety – and that’s before Norwich and West Brom have taken to the pitch. By the time the weekend is out, the Whites’ hopes may be very bleak indeed. Tottenham, meanwhile, move to within four points of fourth, but that faint dream hinges on whether Arsenal can beat Hull City on Sunday.

For the first ten minutes or so, it looked like Fulham might actually pull off a win, lifting themselves out of danger – at least, temporarily. Not two minutes had passed before Alex Kačaniklić barreled down the right and got himself behind the Spurs defense, but he put his strike just wide. Less than a minute later, Hugo Rodallega also had no trouble getting behind the hosts’ back line, but couldn’t get a decent shot in.

(Premier League Roundup: Chelsea blow it, Swansea, Spurs and Palace win)

Tottenham began working their way into the match, but had difficulty putting their shots on target. Harry Kane’s headed pass found Younes Kaboul free just in front of goal, but the defender’s header hit the top of the net. Soon after, Spurs very nearly took the lead after David Stockdale pushed away Christian Erikson’s cross. Aaron Lennon took advantage, volleying in the rebound, but Stockdale pushed the shot into the post and allowed his defense to mop up the danger.

The breakthrough finally came in the 35th minute. A lovely free kick from Erikson floated invitingly over to the far post, where Paulinho was waiting. With no Fulham players nearby, the Brazilian had no difficulty sidefooting it in from about three feet out.

Fulham, conscious of their need for all three points, responded quickly. Steve Sidwell, running through the heart of the Spurs’ defense, attepted a little 1-2 with Kačaniklić. Instead it was Tottenham defender Zeki Freyers that helped him out, providing the ball that Sidwell knocked in for the equalizer – just 90 seconds after the hosts had taken the lead.

Spurs re-took the lead just minutes after the restart. Lennon had no trouble getting past a host of white shirts to send his cross into the area. Kane slipped past Jonny Heitinga, getting his head to the ball to flick it past Stockdale and into the back of the net. That made three goals in three starts for the young forward.

History almost repeated itself two minutes later, with Rodallega going dangerously close with a header. Hugo Lloris got a hand to it, however, tipping over the bar to preserve the Tottenham lead.

In a great show of self-awareness, Tottenham decided to pad their lead just a bit, taking a 3-1 advantage in the 62nd minute. Again the impetus came from an Eriksen free kick. The Dane whipped in a fast one, Kaboul got away from his marker, and the ball came off the defenders knee to land in the back of the net.

With fifteen minutes left to go, it looked as though that extra goal would be vital. Eriksen stuck out a hand to stop Rodallega from flicking the ball forward, providing Fulham with a penalty. Sidwell, looking for his ninth Premier League goal of the season, demanded to take it. The midfielder sent in a powerful shot, but it was straight at Lloris, who had no trouble saving.

LINEUPS

Tottenham Hotspur: Lloris; Naughton, Kaboul, Fryers, Rose; Lennon, Chadli (Dembele 67), Paulinho, Eriksen (Townsend 84); Adebayor, Kane (Soldado 79)

Goals: Paulinho 35′; Kane 48′; Kaboul 62

Fulham: Stockdale; Heitinga (Zverotić 66), Amorebieta, Hangeland, Riise; Kvist, Sidwell, Parker (Karagounis 56); Dejagah, Rodallega, Kačaniklić

Goals: Sidwell 37′